Kathryn*, 26, Gosford, NSW shares her secret:
As I poured hot water from the kettle to make tea for my mum, Lisa*, 37, my hands shook with nerves.
“You alright, darling?” she asked noticing my trembling fingers.
“Of course,” I lied, hastily wiping up the water I’d spilled onto the bench.
Truthfully, I wasn’t okay.
I was harbouring a secret that I desperately wanted to share but I’d chickened out yet again.
I finished making Mum’s tea, then made an excuse to leave.
Driving home, I beat myself up.
You’re going to have to tell her eventually, Kathryn, I told myself. You can’t escape this forever.
I loved Mum, but if she knew my secret, it would destroy her.
She’d been through a lot over the years and I felt awful.
When I was a toddler, she and my dad split up so she raised me on her own.
She was always so cheery around me but sometimes I’d hear her sobbing at night in her bedroom.
As I grew up, she dated on and off but it wasn’t until I was 12 that she found love again with a bloke called Brian*.
He was ten years younger than her, and at first I was wary of him.
But as we got to know each other, I grew to like him.
Six months into their whirlwind relationship, he moved in to our house.
Brian became the father figure I’d never had.
He’d pick me up from school and take me to netball games on Saturday mornings.
He was always interested in my love life and my friends.
“Who’s the latest boy on the scene?” he’d tease me.
I guess, because he was a bit younger than Mum, I felt comfortable telling him bits and pieces.
When I turned 18, I moved in with boyfriend Joel.
Brian wasn’t happy about it.
“I’m not sure this bloke’s good enough for you,” he said but I assured him I could take care of myself.
Besides, we were only 10 minutes’ drive away.
But after I left, cracks started to show in Brian and Mum’s relationship.
They’d been together for six years.
“I know he’s busy at work, but he’s just not around as much, love,” Mum confided to me on the phone.
I felt guilty, like I’d been the glue that had kept them together.
One day, she called me in tears, blubbering that Brian had confessed to seeing one of her younger friends and was moving out.
“How could he do this to me?” she sobbed, heartbroken.
I was furious that Brian could not only do that to Mum, but to me too.
Despite my repeated attempts to set her up with other men, she was adamant she was done with dating.
As the years rolled by, I thought a lot about Brian.
I kept tabs on him on social media and about eight years after their split, I decided to reach out on Facebook, just to see what he was up to.
Hi Brian, it’s Kathryn, how are you? I wrote.
He replied instantly.
Hi hun, great to hear from you. I’m good. Would you be interested in a catch up? he said back.
As furious as I was at him for breaking Mum’s heart, I was grateful for how he’d cared for me as I was growing up.
I owed him at least a coffee.
I was nervous as I arrived at the cafe, but it didn’t take long for us to fall back into our usual silly banter.
Eventually Brian addressed the elephant in the room.
“You must be mad about what I did to your mum,” he continued, “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for hurting her and you, too.”
I appreciated his honesty and we ended up chatting for hours until the waitress told us they were closing.
Brian walked me to my Ford Focus, where he pulled me in for a goodbye kiss.
I let it linger for a second or two, enjoying the moment before I realised what I’d done.
“Brian!” I screamed, and slapped him.
Red faced, he apologised and scurried away.
I sat in my car shocked at what had happened.
But as the days passed, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
When my phone pinged with a text from Brian, two days later I ignored it for a few hours before opening it.
Please forgive me, he wrote.
I pursed my lips and thought about it.
I wanted to forgive him.
In fact, I was starting to think that I enjoyed the smooch.
But I could never tell Mum.
What have I got myself into? I wondered, as pangs of guilt came like waves in my stomach.
But when Brian asked me over to his house, I was powerless to say no.
The instant I saw him, with his dark eyes and cheeky grin, I knew I was attracted.
As I sipped on chardonnay and listened to him talk, I knew our chemistry was undeniable.
At the end of the meal we sat on the lounge, and I leaned in to kiss him again.
One thing led to another and the next morning I woke up in his bed.
I groaned as reality came crashing back.
“What would Mum say?” I groaned.
“Don’t worry about that,” he told me.
But the thought haunted me.
After that, Brian and I saw each other every week.
I thought about breaking up with him to spare Mum’s feelings, but I’ve never felt like this about a guy before.
He’s kind, attentive, and knows me better than anyone else in the world.
Six weeks ago, I had a pregnancy scare when my period was late by 10 days.
When I told Brian, he was excited.
Eventually I took a test and was crushed when it came back negative.
I’ve always wanted to have children and I desperately want to do that with Brian.
But if we do, we’ll have to come clean to Mum and I’m certain it would crush her.
I don’t know how I’ve landed myself in this predicament but I have two choices – I either walk away from the man of my dreams, who could one day give me children, or break my beautiful mum’s heart.
What the hell should I do?
If you have an opinion on what Kathryn should do, send it to [email protected]